LONG-TIME EMPLOYEES … Stryker Farmer’s Exchange Manager Neil Nofziger, who has been at the elevator since 1974, posed with Office Manager/Accountant Nancy Trevino who has been there for almost as long, beginning in 1984. He remembers Rome Miller telling him when he was a teenager, “Find a job that you like and stick with it.” He followed that advice. Nofziger said that as he retires from forty seven years at the Exchange, he is grateful that he has had good people with whom he got to work, as well as a great Board of Directors. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
Stryker Farmer’s Exchange/Elevator has been a landmark next to the train tracks in Stryker, Ohio, since 1920. Over the years, it has been managed by Glen Clark, Enoch Clark, Harold Peugeot, co managed for a while by Peugeot and Lloyd Wieland, and then by Neil Nofziger for the past 44 years.
Nofziger, who graduated from Archbold High School in 1974, started as a bookkeeper at the Exchange in April of that year.
Marvin Storer, who was the feed salesman to Neil’s dad, had mentioned to him that they needed someone at Stryker Farmer’s Exchange. Neil interviewed with Harold Peugeot on a Saturday morning and started work the very next Saturday.
He was in that position for three years before moving into the Manager’s position.
Raised in Ridgeville Township, near Ridgeville Corners, Ohio, on a farm where his dad raised poultry, cattle and swine, Nofziger understands the views and needs of area farmers.
During high school he enjoyed math and took some bookkeeping classes, so he was ready for the job in that way as well. Concerning staying on one job for his whole working career, Nofziger said, “A wise old gentleman, named Rome Miller who ran Rome Gas, said to find a job that you like and stick with it.”
“I remember him saying that and it has worked for me.” Later in the interview, Nofziger added, “Things have changed, but there is no time change for that statement. Maybe now it would be ‘find a vocation and stick with it.’ People just want to move around now. They don’t want to stay in one place forever, but if you can find a vocation and stick with it, that is a good choice.”
Neil is married to Kathy and they have three children. Living near Stryker and being a part of the farming community has lent itself to an enjoyable life.
He has seen a lot of changes over the years, with one of the biggest being when around 1977, an oil company out of Texas, the Hunt Brothers, cornered the market on Soybeans.
Up until that time, the price for crops had been the same for many, many years – $2 a bushel for corn, $4 for wheat and $5 for beans. There had not been much fluctuation at all, but ever since then the prices have fluctuated.
“It went back down in the 80’s but that was the first experience with higher prices. Right now they are fluctuating wildly,” Nofziger said.
“Recently corn went down thirty seven cents in just one day, which is huge.” Nofziger agreed that it is much like the frustration with the up and down of the gas prices, adding that it is a good thing that farmers “do have tools that help them lock in on better prices through the Futures Market. That has been a good tool for them over the years.”
Another change over the past forty years is that the number of farmers has drastically reduced. The ones that remain tend to farm more acres than they used to.
Of course with the invention of bigger and better machinery and farming techniques, they are more able to cover more acreage. So, “There are fewer farmers, farming the same amount of soil,” he said.
One of the changes that makes it possible to farm more land is the dependence on chemical technology to suppress weeds and help the crops grow, which also allows the farmers to plant right in the stubble, without tilling the land first.
“I really have enjoyed working in Agriculture,” Nofziger said. “We deal with urban gardeners and lawn caregivers, as well as farmers. There is a little bit here for everybody.”
“We sell pet food, too, so townspeople come for that. There are a lot of hobby farmers out there that come for advice and to make purchases.”
The Exchange reaches about a 20 mile radius of farmers bringing in their crops. Some are as far away as Ridgeville, Edgerton, Alvordton, Evansport and Ney as well as nearby.
The business usually has eleven or twelve employees, and Nofziger commended them saying, “I have been blessed to have wonderful, hard working employees who are dedicated to serving our farmers.”
“Accountant and office manager, Nancy Trevino, has been here for the past thirty seven years, and that has lent itself to smooth running of the business.”
“One of the better things we did, to be ready for business in the new century, was to build our new building,” he mentioned. “The old office was approximately 900 square feet and the newer one, which was built in 1996, has 3600 square feet. We have all appreciated it. Farmers are astute business people and they appreciate us having up to date technology to work with.”
“It has also been a blessing to work with a great Board of Directors who believed in me for 42 years and let me manage as I saw fit.”
There are nine members on the Board. It has always been all men, and Nofziger said he hopes that changes, but it has just not happened yet. The Board members, who are all farmers and businessmen, and Nofziger, have exchanged knowledge and offered advice.
Mr. Nofziger is now retiring and will be finishing on June 30, 2021. His replacement will be Mr. Randy Eisel. The Board lets him go with gratefulness for all his years of excellent service to the community, and wishes him well.
Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com